AB may miss out on series

Skipper struggling with nagging elbow injury

South Africa captain AB de Villiers faces a race against time to be fit for the one-day series against Australia starting next Friday, and could also miss the test series Down Under. De Villiers was yesterday ruled out of Sunday’s match against Ireland in Benoni. This was to allow further recovery time from an elbow injury.

His availability for the home series against Australia, which starts next week, would be subject to him passing a fitness test, Cricket South Africa said yesterday.

De Villiers missed the recent series win over New Zealand due to the injury, which was the first time he had been forced to sit out a test since his debut in 2004.

“AB has been on a rigorous rehabilitation and treatment plan for the last six weeks, but is still complaining of pain in the elbow region,” team manager Mohammed Moosajee said.

“We hope that the extra time will allow the injury to respond to treatment.”

Should De Villiers not pass the fitness test next week and undergo surgery‚ not only does he stand a chance of missing out on taking part in the series against Australia‚ but will also not play in the test series against the Australians that will be played Down Under in November.

“If he does not come through the fitness test‚ then a date for surgery will be set. If he does go for surgery, then we are looking at a further period of six to eight weeks of rest,” Moosajee said.

“But we don’t want to pre-empt that‚ we want to give him every opportunity to recover from that and, hopefully, play a part in the upcoming Australian series.

“If he has surgery then he will be out of the test series.”

Faf du Plessis will captain the team in the one-off match against Ireland. Rilee Rossouw has been added to the squad as batting cover.

While De Villiers’s injury is cause of concern for coach Russell Domingo‚ the Proteas head honcho is confident there are players who can do an equally good job with the bat.

Domingo also confirmed that Temba Bavuma would open the batting for the side against Ireland‚ possibly sharing the opening partnership with former provincial teammate Quinton de Kock.

“Look‚ I think Temba has some really good attributes of an opener,” Domingo said.

“He is really good in terms of his technique. He is a guy who can bat for periods of time‚ he can hit the bad ball for four.

“At this stage of his ODI career, he is maybe not suited to come in at No 5 or No 6‚ trying to hit fours and sixes at the back of an innings.

“I think this allows him a nice start to his one-day international cricket‚ where he can play normally.

“If he hits a nice cricket shot in the first four overs it can go for four‚ whereas if he hits a nice shot in the last 10 overs it might only go for one.

“It’s a nice spot for him to find a niche for one-day cricket. I’m very excited to see what he can offer.

“He’s had a really good start to his test career‚ hopefully he can add something different to our ODI batting as well.

“He is obviously not an easy guy to bowl to, because of his stature‚ so he might just give us a good score up front,” Domingo said.

Meanwhile, Australia coach Darren Lehmann predicted sledging was likely to be part of the mix when they confronted South Africa.

Skipper Steve Smith had lamented the quiet, virtually shy approach of his test team during a recent 3-0 series loss in Sri Lanka.

“Steve hit it right on the head,” Lehmann said after the Australian squad arrived in Johannesburg.

He believes the one-day side differs from the test team in that they are more inclined towards sledging. “The one-day guys are pretty vocal,” he said. “I think we can look forward to a pretty fiery series. One of the great things about these two countries is that they play it really hard on the field, but get along really well off it.

“I do not think the noise will be an issue for both teams in this series,” Lehmann said.

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